Tag Archives: astronomy

Exoplanet study finds ‘super-Earths’ likely have oceans and continents

Massive terrestrial planets, called “super-Earths,” are known to be common in Earth’s galaxy, the Milky Way. Now a Northwestern University astrophysicist and a University of Chicago geophysicist report the odds of these planets having an Earth-like climate are much greater than previously thought.

Nicolas B. Cowan and Dorian Abbot’s new model challenges the conventional wisdom, which says super-Earths actually would be very unlike Earth—each would be a waterworld, with its surface completely covered in water. They conclude that most tectonically active super-Earths—regardless of mass—store most of their water in the mantle and will have both oceans and exposed continents, enabling a stable climate such as Earth’s. (more…)

Read More

The Era of Neutrino Astronomy has Begun

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Astrophysicists using a telescope embedded in Antarctic ice have succeeded in a quest to detect and record the mysterious phenomena known as cosmic neutrinos – nearly massless particles that stream to Earth at the speed of light from outside our solar system, striking the surface in a burst of energy that can be as powerful as a baseball pitcher’s fastball. Next, they hope to build on the early success of the IceCube Neutrino Observatory to detect the source of these high-energy particles, said Physics Professor Gregory Sullivan, who led the University of Maryland’s 12-person team of contributors to the IceCube Collaboration.

“The era of neutrino astronomy has begun,” Sullivan said as the IceCube Collaboration announced the observation of 28 very high-energy particle events that constitute the first solid evidence for astrophysical neutrinos from cosmic sources.  (more…)

Read More

Question: Do your legs know what your tongue is doing?

UCLA researchers build a multisensory virtual world

To survive, animals must explore their world to find the necessities of life. It’s a complex task, requiring them to form them a mental map of their environment to navigate the safest and fastest routes to food and water. They also learn to anticipate when and where certain important events, such as finding a meal, will occur.

Understanding the connection between these two fundamental behaviors, navigation and the anticipation of a reward, had long eluded scientists because it was not possible to simultaneously study both while an animal was moving.  (more…)

Read More

Distant Planetary System is a Super-Sized Solar System

TORONTO, ON – A team of astronomers, including Quinn Konopacky of the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics, University of Toronto, has made the most detailed examination yet of the atmosphere of a Jupiter-like planet beyond our Solar System.

According to Konopacky, “We have been able to observe this planet in unprecedented detail because of the advanced instrumentation we are using on the Keck II telescope, our groundbreaking observing and data-processing techniques, and because of the nature of the planetary system.” (more…)

Read More

The Universe in the Middle of Nowhere

The UA’s Chris Impey has taught cosmology to Tibetan Buddhist monastics in remote parts of India each summer for the past five years. With a grant from the John Templeton Foundation, he detailed his experiences in a book, “Humble Before the Void,” which likely will publish in 2014.

Chris Impey thinks back to the time he spent living on the edge of Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, teaching modern cosmology to Buddhist monastics in India: “On a typical day, they would be up at 5 a.m. and have prayed for a few hours or done meditation before you even see them. And their attention is just as good at the end of a long day as at the beginning.” (more…)

Read More

Bright Stars to Black Holes: UA Astronomer Awarded for Her Research

In addition to being selected as one of 50 scholars awarded fellowships each year at the prestigious Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University, the UA’s Feryal Ozel has won the 2013 American Physical Society’s Maria Goeppert Mayer Award for her cutting-edge research on neutron stars.

Feryal Ozel studies two things most people don’t think about everyday: neutron stars and black holes.

An associate professor of astronomy at the University of Arizona, Ozel has won the 2013 American Physical Society’s Maria Goeppert Mayer Award for her work on neutron stars and her dedication to public outreach and education in science and astronomy. In addition, this year she is completing a prestigious fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University. Ozel came to the UA in 2003 as a NASA Hubble fellow and began a faculty position in 2005. (more…)

Read More

New Website Invites Public to Help Identify Seafloor Life and Habitats

The public is invited to help identify objects they see in images of the seafloor through a new interactive website called “Seafloor Explorer.” The result of a unique collaboration between oceanographers studying seafloor habitats, Web programmers and social scientists, Seafloor Explorer (www.seafloorexplorer.org) launches September 13.

The team has more than 40 million images, but are launching the site with a preliminary set of 100,000 – all of them taken by HabCam, a habitat mapping underwater vehicle. HabCam was developed and built by the HabCam group, which comprises marine biologists and engineers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) as well as fishermen and other scientists. The Seafloor Explorer interactive website was funded by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and built in collaboration with the HabCam Group by the Citizen Science Alliance (CSA), the developers behind interactive sites found on Zooniverse.org. (more…)

Read More

Helping Women Faculty Navigate ‘Career Pressure Points’

As a professor of astronomy and physics, Priyamvada Natarajan doesn’t balk at taking risks. She has modeled the upper limits of “monster” black holes and analyzed the consistency of dark matter. As a theorist, she notes, intellectual risk is par for the course.

But as a woman in science, risk-taking has another meaning, she says. Studying in a predominantly male field, Natarajan considers herself fortunate to have been surrounded by exceptional mentors throughout her career. She recognizes that her experience was an unusual one. Many of her female classmates at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) did not receive the same level of encouragement to continue their studies and research, she notes. (more…)

Read More